Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

C+ SDG Original source: National Catholic Register

In Thor: Ragnarok Jeff Goldblum plays a flamboyant, decadent, sadistic connoisseur of extraordinary specimens, including slaves, known only by a nominalized common noun, “The Gamemaster.”

If he seems somehow familiar, perhaps he reminds you of a character in Guardians of the Galaxy who fits the same general description: “The Collector,” played by Benicio Del Toro.

The similarity is not coincidental. You won’t learn this in Thor: Ragnarok, but the two characters are “brothers,” at least in the comics. (They belong to a class of obsessively trivial ancient beings called the “Elders of the Universe,” though this may or may not apply in the big-screen Marvel universe.)

Directed by Taika Waititi. Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Anthony Hopkins. Disney/Marvel.

Artistic/Entertainment Value

Moral/Spiritual Value

0

Age Appropriateness

Teens & Up

MPAA Rating

PG-13

Caveat Spectator

Lots and lots of action violence and mayhem; some rude and suggestive humor; fleeting computer-animated rear nudity.

Officially, Thor: Ragnarok is the third Thor movie, but in spirit it’s closer to being the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie. This is both a mark of the massive success of the Guardians films, with their colorful, whimsical design and self-mocking humor, and of the relative failure of the first two Thor films, especially The Dark World, to find a vibe of their own.

It’s also a mark of the effort to bring together the almost entirely unconnected worlds of the Avengers and the Guardians. Other than a few points of contact, notably the Infinity Stones, the Guardians movies might be taking place in a different universe than the other Marvel movies.

Thor: Ragnarok doesn’t entirely close the gap, but it broadens the Avengers’ horizons to the point where convergence is now possible. This is a film where Thor could turn a corner and bump into Groot or Gamora. That he doesn’t is only a matter of timing: Avengers: Infinity War is coming next summer, and the Guardians are part of it.

Waititi’s gentle, deadpan sense of humor is evident throughout the film, but especially in the soft-spoken, Kiwi-accented rock-monster Korg, whom Waititi fans will recognize as the director’s avatar even if they don’t know that he’s voiced and performed via motion capture by Waititi himself.

So there’s no sign of Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster or Stellan Skarsgard’s Erik Selvig, which is fine, because they weren’t helping anyway.

Instead, there are plenty of gaudy otherworldly settings, lots of humor, and even a couple of 1970s musical glosses, including Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, which, with its Norse-mythology references, is almost too on the nose.

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